Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
529 Wyoming Ave.
Scranton, PA 18509
The Tallest Man I Knew (continued from previous page)
We all just feel this huge void in our lives that we are trying to come to terms with.
Uncle Yisroel was our pillar. He was rock solid in his faith, belief, Torah and Mitzvos, Tzadoka and chesed.
We looked up to him, and he devotedly looked after us.
This magnificent and majestic man touched each of our lives and it is hard to imagine having such a void in our lives.
He didn’t want eulogies, rather just reading Psalms, and in reality, there were more sobs at his funeral of about 1000 people then at funerals where eulogies are presented. Why? Because each person has had some personal encounter where he was there to help and assist them or the Jewish people at large through his involvement in scores of organizations.
All those memories stirred within us, and brought us to tears.
While honoring his wishes and not turning this into a eulogy with details of his goodness and kindness, I want to try to capture the essence of this great person so that we can learn from his life and mannerism.
A year and a half ago when he was going through a debilitating illness, I visited him in the hospital and mentioned to him that King Solomon in Song of Songs speaks of, “Cholas Ahava – a love sickness.” I continued, “Uncle Yisroel the only sickness that I know that you had all your life is –‘Cholas Ahavas Yisroel - Sick with love towards your fellow Jew!”
Do you know what this man who was always strong and composed, did? His brow started to wrinkle and he began to cry! He only allowed himself to cry because he was in a weakened and vulnerable state…but he cried because he knew quite well that he had this magnificent and wonderful “sickness, of Cholas Ahavas Yisroel” that his good heart knew no bounds when it came to assisting another Jew. If he became emotional about himself, we certainly have a right to cry about his loss.
His tall physical body was complimented by his creative and visionary ideas and dreams. He optimistically stepped forward with these ideas and through his largess brought them to fruition.
My uncle was honored by many organizations on numerous occasions, yet, practically all of his chesed was done quietly without fanfare.
He considered himself a soldier of Hashem, saying, “If Hashem endowed me with blessing whether it was wisdom, vision, finances or influence, it was to be used to benefit my brethren, even when it goes against my nature to receive an honor that risks exposing what I want to keep private.”
He cared just as much about an individual’s need as he did for an organizational need. He had this uncanny ability; a keen and perceptive eye that saw what an individual, family or organization needed or was lacking, and presented it without being asked. He craved and yearned to do Chesed.
No matter if times were good or when he was met with challenges, he was the same devoted soldier, always recognizing and expressing Hashem’s dominion and control.
My uncle was a businessman; he built his business on integrity and he treated all his employees fairly and with dignity.
He had a tremendous reverence towards rabbis and leaders, and he was an articulate and stately spokesman for the Jewish people and to all who came in contact with him. He greeted and showed respect to all. When he would come home from work, before he would sit down to dinner, he would don a special robe displaying dignity to the food Hashem provided him with and respect to his wife who devotedly prepared it.
He took life seriously. He was always grateful for Providence that brought his family from Czechoslovakia to these shores right at the onset of WWII. He was the bridge in our family that connected the pre and post war eras by openly sharing his experiences and encounters with us. He felt that if he was excluded from the fate of so many during the war, he had a mission to accomplish in life, and he did his utmost to achieve the high goals that he continuously set for himself.
He thought in big terms, and anything he did was expansive. It was refreshing and exciting to witness and